When an Open Floor Plan is Too Open

When an Open Floor Plan is Too Open

Today, I’m here to talk about adding walls to my floor plan. It often feels like the online design crowd and the home improvement shows ONLY take walls away, but what about when you could benefit from adding a wall or two?

In today’s post, we’ll explore when it’s worth it to close in a space and even (gasp!) lose a natural light source.

My DMs got quite controversial and I realized that this subject is a big, fun thought experiment. Let’s take a journey together.

Let me start by saying that I love an open floor plan, and most of the time I think the more windows, the better!

As someone who bought my very first home on pretty much the smallest American budget that exists, I completely understand the allure of always wanting a big more space, added windows, and that coveted kitchen island that so many people knock out walls to achieve.

We all know more and bigger is not always better, though, right? There has to be a line where your house is too open, and lacking room definition.

Or, what about those cool modern homes that are all windows? Many people feel they lack needed privacy. Your line will be different depending on the style of your home, your location, and your lifestyle.

Many brand new, beautiful (expensive!!) homes in my area basically have a living room and kitchen that are one big room. It’s one of the most controversial major trends of our decade.

People have very strong feelings about open concept—usually they absolutely love it or absolutely do not.

For the record, I am 50/50 on the issue! I think an open kitchen can definitely be an improvement on a smaller home, giving you more opportunity to make the kitchen you really want.

My parents knocked down the wall between their dining room and kitchen in the 1990s, and I remember what a huge improvement it was. It really just depends on the house!

For my own home, I strongly prefer a separate kitchen. I love cooking and baking all by myself in the kitchen while my family plays or watches TV in another room.

Having a little alone time while cooking is something my (introvert) husband and I highly value at times. As a decorator, I prefer a layout with separate spaces where you can see other rooms, but not the entire room.

Decorating one big open space is truly much more difficult.

In 10-20 years will people be remodeling to add walls to the kitchens of their 2021 farmhouse-style mansions? Only time will tell.

OK, let’s talk about my remodel because my open floor plan was in our living spaces, and it actually has nothing to do with the kitchen!

Here are a few photos from when we originally purchased our home (to see how open it was). VERY open.

In these photos you can see the entryway, living room, and dining room which were originally one big open space.

When I first saw this home, I fell in love with it. The layout is great and it checked all our boxes of wants and needs. I knew it was going to take a lot of renovating to make it cozy and our style (I just didn’t realize HOW much).

Before this, I had mainly experienced renovating mid-century and early-century homes, so this larger 1990s home was very different from the starting point I was used to.

A few months in, I started to realize that no amount of decorating was going to give the home the look and feel I wanted. We needed to add some walls.

When I first brought up the idea of adding walls to my husband and close friends, they thought I was crazy. Who ADDS walls?

Plus, when we first walked through the house, all I could say was that it was perfect and that I loved how open it was. So why did that change over time? For me, it was living in the space.

Slowly, I convinced everyone (myself included) that adding some walls would make the home feel bigger, not smaller, because we would gain more useful space and be able to decorate each space more separately.

I am sure I said more than 100 times, “Don’t worry, it will still feel open.”

By the time I started sharing our plans online, I received a second wave of skepticism, but I felt prepared for it and eager to show my project in real time.

Over the past few months, I shared videos of adding walls, adding a lower ceiling, and even losing a light source in one room.

There are definitely still opinions on both sides, but I’ve received hundreds of messages saying “It looks bigger” or “It looks like it was always meant to be this way” once we added the new walls and arches. Even my bff texted me and said, “Maybe you’re not crazy.” 🙂

I was most nervous about closing in the double story entryway. On paper, I knew it was going to be good, but it was very hard to visualize when we were so used to the double story ceiling in that space. Would it feel too small?

On the morning it was completed, Jeremy and I walked in to take a look and he said, “It feels bigger.” That was probably the most satisfying moment of the whole renovation.

I was so happy and proud that it worked. It really does feel bigger, by the way. Not bigger than it was before, but bigger than you imagine it would feel. It’s a huge improvement!

That’s my open floor plan story! Let me know if you have any questions. It was a huge learning process for me and I really enjoyed putting the puzzle together over this past year.

I would LOVE to hear your thoughts and opinions in general or from your own homes! I think open concepts are SO controversial because they truly can solve a problem, but also create one when used as a one-size-fits-all solution.

If you’d like, click here to read more of my posts. xx- Elsie

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